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Still only 27 years old, John Calvin publishes the first edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion. This first edition was quite compact. Over the next 23 years Calvin would repeatedly enlarge and restructure this work, culminating in the massive edition of 1559. Despite its immense influence on theological thought, it would be a mistake to think of the Institutes as primarily a “systematic theology.” It was rather, particularly after the edition of 1539, intended as a companion to Calvin’s commentaries. Putting the extended discussions of theological “loci” or “topics” brought up by his exegetical work in one place was a means to accomplish his primary goal of writing commentaries that were “brief and clear.”